Building a Career in Manufacturing – Sean McColl

An Insight into the Career Journey of a Production Manager

I started my career in sheet metal when I was 19, starting out as a welder with a leading Turf machinery manufacturer in 2008. This is where I learnt the basics of metal fabrication, welding various turf machinery products every day and developing my skills. It was here I discovered a passion for manufacturing and particularly the processes involved.

From there, I moved around different areas of production, spending time as a Laser Operator and Press-Brake Operator. Eventually I moved into design as a CAD (Computer Aided Design) Engineer and here I saw the other side of Manufacturing – the work that went into the concept of a product and its pre-production. I learnt all about design for manufacture principles and value engineering which gave me a better understanding of the end-to-end manufacturing process.

Around this time, I started studying for a Higher National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and moved into production scheduling, responsible for co-ordinating the production of new orders and planning capacity. The knowledge and understanding I gained here was priceless and I soon became a Production Manager for a Laser Cutting company. I loved the role and the responsibility of orchestrating people, material and capacity to achieve strict deadlines. The fast-paced nature of production is what really excites me.

The move to Alpha Manufacturing as Production Manager was a big one for me in 2019 and now, two years on, I can honestly say I love my job. Being a target driven person, I thrive on seeing my team hit our KPI’s and achieve deadlines. I love the dynamic nature of the work too – our portfolio of parts and assemblies is ever changing as new customers come on board and this keeps things fresh. Every day is different and presents its own unique challenges.

My next career goal is to become Senior Production Manager responsible for all production departments. I’m really ambitious and the good thing with manufacturing is that there’s always more to learn. The production challenges of today are the engineering knowledge of tomorrow. Ultimately, I’d like to become an Operations Manager and hopefully with experience and continued hard work I’ll get there.

If I were to give any piece of advice to somebody just setting out in a manufacturing career, it would be to let curiosity be your compass and gain inter-departmental experience to understand the varied perspectives of production. I would also stress the importance of being hands on and accepting that success isn’t the perfect narrative; plenty of failures will occur.


Sean McColl has 13 years’ experience in engineering with a wealth of knowledge in all departments of sheet metal fabrication. Sean is responsible for overseeing Alpha Manufacturing’s production team, ensuring deadlines are met and quality remains high across the board. He’s ambitious about his career and aims to eventually become an Operations Manager. Outside of work, Sean has recently become a proud dad and loves spending quality time with the family.